ENVELOPMENT OF PERSIA 471 Summary.—In this chapter we have traced the envelop- ment of Persia from the north and from the east The Great Northern Power, urged on by the irresistible forces which ever drive an organized state to expand at the expense of unorganized neighbours unable, and often un- willing, even to restrain their subjects from raiding, has advanced in four great strides from Orenburg to the Persian frontier. In its progress it has absorbed the valley of the Sir Darya, Bokhara and Samarcand, Khiva, and finally the country of the Turkoman, which now con- stitutes the province of Transcaspia, with its capital at Askabad. Russia has firmly established her power in this vast sparsely populated steppe territory and has riveted her yoke by means of the Central Asian railway in the first place, and more recently, in 1905, by the line which joins Tashkent to Orenburg. Other railways are being projected. I have travelled in Central Asia on more than one occasion and can testify to the steady progress visible on every side, which contrasts most favourably with the lack of security, of order, and of justice characteristic of the native regimes described by the ready pen of Vamb6ry. This advance of Russia has been the subject of bitter criticism in England; but the critics, many of whom are badly informed, do not appear to realize that during the same period Great Britain has annexed great, fertile, well- populated provinces in India. Outside India, too, the huge desert province now known as British Baluchistan has been annexed, and the foreign relations of Afghanistan are at the present day controlled by the Government of India. On the western frontier alone there has been no important change to record, and the exact boundary between the Persian and Turkish empires has been laid down by a Commission on which representatives of Great Britain and Russia are serving.